Changing File Attributes with the ATTRIB Command

Although the XP GUI allows you to change attributes from the properties of a file or folder, the command line ATTRIB tool is a much faster and more flexible alternative. One benefit of this tool is that it allows you to configure the System attributes for a file, which isn’t possible via the graphical interface. This is useful because when a file or folder has both its Hidden and System attributes set, the file is completely hidden in the Windows Explorer interface by default.

To view the attributes associated with a file or folder from the command line, type ATTRIB followed by the file name. To add attributes to a file, use the ATTRIB command followed by +R +H +A or +S (and then the path/filename) to add the Read-only, Hidden, Archive, and System attributes to the file respectively. The –R –H –A and –S switches remove these attributes from the file.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.